New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer, whose investigations of white-collar crime have shaken the nation’s financial institutions, said Tuesday he will run for governor in 2006.
Long known to be interested in the job, it was the first time the high-profile attorney general has said he will definitely run.
“The state is at a point of crisis,” the Democrat told The Associated Press. “We are bleeding jobs. We need reform in the process of government.”
In his two terms, Spitzer has won national and international attention with groundbreaking investigations of Wall Street investment houses, mutual fund managers and, most recently, the insurance industry.
Republican Gov. George Pataki has not yet said if he will seek a fourth, four-year term in 2006, although new state GOP Chairman Stephen Minarik said Friday that he expected the governor would run for re-election.
Spitzer’s investigations of financial institutions have put him on the political map with multimillion dollar settlements and boardroom resignations. But his activities have also drawn criticism that he is most interested in headlines. Pataki spokeswoman Lisa DeWald Stoll once said: “We all know that A.G. stands for aspiring governor.”
Poll favors Spitzer
A statewide poll released last week by Zogby International had Spitzer favored by 44 percent of likely voters with Pataki the choice of 41 percent. In a hypothetical matchup with former New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, Spitzer would trail 36 percent to 52 percent. Giuliani has not shown any interest in the governor’s race.
Spitzer’s path to the Democratic nomination was eased considerably last month when newly re-elected Sen. Charles Schumer said he would stay in Congress rather than run for governor. He was considered Spitzer’s chief competition.
Spitzer, the 45-year-old Harvard Law School-educated son of a millionaire New York City developer, already has the backing of a host of top New York Democrats, including former Gov. Mario Cuomo and state Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver.
Fundraiser with actress
The announcement comes just two days before the Spitzer 2006 campaign committee stages a $1,000-a-person fundraising lunch in Manhattan with actress Renee Zellweger aimed at raising more than $2 million to add to the $5.5 million it already has.
Last year, Spitzer was named one of New York magazine’s “50 Sexiest New Yorkers.”
“We love the strong-jawed, bright-eyed attorney general, a modern-day Eliot Ness who’s both tough and charming,” the magazine gushed.
“It was good for a laugh at home,” recalled Spitzer. “My daughters thought it was a big joke.”